Every season of Fortnite brings with it a bewildering amount of change — you can see footage that is months apart and feel like you’re looking at totally different games. With the introduction of planes this morning, Fortnite has once again reinvented itself in a way that might be familiar to fans of a certain large-scale first-person shooter.
Over the last year, the battle royale game has placed more emphasis on vehicles through inclusions such as the shopping cart, the all-terrain vehicle, and arguably, the balloon. While each of these mobility options alters Fortnite in their own right, planes change the feel of the game more fundamentally than anything that came before it. With this addition, Fortnite feels like it’s going after the Battlefield experience — that is, over-the-top vehicle-based action.
Battlefield players like to refer to outlandish, seemingly impossible plays as “Battlefield moments,” something that sets that shooter apart from contemporaries like Call of Duty. While seemingly every first-person shooter loves dabbling with spectacle, the thing that made a Battlefield moment was that it was flashy but completely unscripted, led primarily by the creativity of the player in question.
This defining characteristic of the Battlefield experience started eroding with the advent of battle royale shooters like PUBG, which are entirely defined by surprising, spur-of-the-moment plays. Fortnite took this phenomenon even further by adding constant updates into the mix — it feels like every day I’m discovering an exciting way to kill people in the game. Planes add another ingredient to the mix.
The X-4 Stormwing Plane allows up to four passengers and a pilot. Riders can use a mounted turret, or perhaps get ambitious with their own arsenal — there are many clips of fans sniping people on the ground while in the air, or vice versa. Pilots have the flexibility of flying however they’d like, whether that’s turning on a dime or doing barrel rolls. You can also easily parachute out of the aircraft, and the vehicle itself can cause damage. The plane’s versatility combined with Fortnite’s already expansive armory means there are a wealth of killing possibilities, many of which the developers may have never imagined.
Right now, the top clip on Reddit is a wild dogfight where a player parachutes out of a plane only to have that plane crash right into the enemy, sending their rival down in flames. It’s pretty much Battlefield, except candy-colored.
The update has only been out for a few hours, so it’s likely we’ll continue to see incredible Battlefield-like plane clips as the weekend unfolds. What’s clear right now is that Fortnite isn’t just going after Battlefield. Fortnite is slowly but surely muscling into everyone’s territory. The release of the creative mode, which allows players to build their own games and levels, is reminiscent of Minecraft. Fortnite’s new wraps, which allow for finer weapon and vehicle customizations, carry a taste of Counter-Strike. Pets, which are little creatures that you carry around with you, borrows from Dota 2. Fortnite’s ATK’s can shred air and the game awards you points, like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. There’s a golfing mini-game. The recent food fight mode, where players picked a team and fought for dominance, is totally out of Splatoon’s playbook.
It almost feels reductive to call Fortnite a battle royale game — really, it’s becoming every game ever, all at once.